On the one hand, Jacoby's column includes the standard, conservative messages:
If society is to flourish and perpetuate itself, it must uphold marriage as a social ideal — it must raise boys and girls in a culture that encourages them to eventually marry a partner of the opposite sex, make stable and loving homes together, and have children ....And so on, and so on. But, starting with the 3rd paragraph of Jacoby's column, marriage begins to take it on the chin:
"At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods," reporter Sam Roberts notes. "At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom."When an older woman says that every day without marriage "is like a present," it underscores the folly of viewing marriage as a "pro-con" issue like estate tax cuts or drilling in ANWAR.
That delight is voiced by nearly every woman quoted in the story.
"The benefits were completely unforeseen for me," says a 59-year-old divorcee, "the free time, the amount of time I get to spend with friends, the time I have alone, which I value tremendously, the flexibility in terms of work, travel, and cultural events."
Such are the joys of non-marriage, another woman exults, that "every day is like a present."
In many cases, marriage works very well — in other cases, it legally entangles couples who were fundamentally incompatible and/or unprepared to stand by a commitment of this magnitude. And, as Jacoby (unintentionally) informs his readers, some widows are delighted "in their newfound freedom."